COVID vaccines of the future might not be shots

1 big thing: Omicron rattles globe, marches north

Companies around the world are scrambling to develop a next generation of COVID vaccines that don’t require a jab, Axios health care editor Tina Reed writes.

  • Why it matters:Delivering a vaccine through a pill or a nasal spray could make them much easier to administer, especially in places where distribution is tough.

What’s next: The earliest many of these companies could apply for an emergency use authorization from the FDA is still a year or more away. But, alas, the world will still need COVID vaccines in a year, and beyond.

-Omicron rattles globe, marches north

New York declared a COVID state of emergency, and the U.K. health secretary said today that two cases of the new coronavirus variant Omicron have been identified in England:

  • «The two casesare linked and there is a link to travel to Southern Africa. «

Omicron gives signs of being an evil monster, with the ability to shatter the recovery. But epidemiologists cautioned that we know little about the variant or how our vaccines will react.

  • «Epidemiologists are trying to say, “Easy, tiger,'» William Hanageof Harvard’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health told The New York Times. «This could be very bad. But we don’t know enough to roll that tape forward.»

«It’s coming»: New York Gov. Kathy Hochul warned: «We continue to see warning signs of spikes in COVID this winter, and while the new Omicron variant has yet to be detected in New York State, it’s coming.»

The markets captured the fears: Cruise, airline and casino stocks sank. Zoom, Peloton and vaccine giants rose.

  • The U.S., the E.U. and other countries, by suddenly restricting flightsfrom southern Africa, «are buying time to prepare for the worst while hoping for the best,» as The Economist put it.

President Biden told reporters: «I’ve decided that we’re going to be cautious. But we don’t know a lot about the variant except that it is of great concern; it seems to spread rapidly.»

  • Asked if hewas considering new vaccine mandates, since his plan for business is held up in court, Biden said: «No … not at the moment.»

Reality check: «The sky is not falling,» Dr. Peter Hotez, dean of Baylor’s National School of Tropical Medicine, said on CNN. «This variant does not appear to be causing worse disease than anything we’ve seen before — this is not “The Andromeda Strain.'»

  • «The biggest crisisright now facing the United States is still that we’ve only» fully vaccinated 59% of the population, Hotez added. «The game plan doesn’t change: We need to vaccinate the American people fully.»

What we know/don’t know: Early evidence suggests Omicron carries an increased risk of reinfection compared with other highly transmissible variants, the World Health Organization says.

  • That meanspeople who contracted COVID and recovered could be subject to catching it again. It could take weeks to know if current vaccines are less effective against it, AP reports.

Go deeper: Omicron explainer … Biden proclamation on travel from southern Africa, effective Monday at 12:01 a.m. ET.


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